The Last 8 (The Last 8 #1) by Laura Pohl #bookreview #YA #scifi

A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave 

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it. 

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

I’m always up for a good alien invasion story.  When you toss in Area 51, a handful of surviving teens, and an adorable canine named Sputnik, it becomes a must read for me.

This book gives the reader just enough time to care about Clover before throwing her in front of the aliens, so the pacing gets off to a good start.  It slows a bit once she reaches Area 51 due to drama between her and the other teens before picking up again.  I felt like there was some character inconsistency on Clover’s part, with comments and actions coming out of the blue based on her prior behavior.  The group of survivors are wonderfully diverse, but some of their voices are similar and I had trouble distinguishing between them.

As a sci-fi geek, the pop culture references to Back to the Future and Independence Day had me doing happy dances.  For me, it’s difficult to read or watch any alien story without thinking about Independence Day, and this novel contains some similar elements.

The Last 8 is strong out of the gate, drops intriguing clues throughout the book, and has interesting twists toward the end, but some plot holes and character inconsistencies slowed the momentum for me.  This book is scheduled for release March 1st, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

Extra Innings: Can You Go Home Again? by Don Massenzio #bookreview #timetravel #scifi

Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team. Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past. That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again? Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

When I first saw the cover for this book, not being a sports fan, I nearly passed on it.  But when I read the blurb and saw it was about time travel, I snatched it right up.

I immediately wanted to root for Joe.  With a failed marriage, a thankless, dead-end job, and not much to go home to at night, the guy deserves some happiness.  Upon realizing the seat he purchased from a baseball stadium that held wonderful memories for him is a time machine, endless possibilities are at his fingertips.  If you could travel back in time, what would you change about your life?  Anything?  Would those changes have unexpected ripple effects?

Joe encounters several surprises along the way, and I laughed out loud at some situations he found himself in.  Extra Innings is a fabulous, enjoyable story with several layers to include family drama, organized crime, and corporate mergers, and I was captivated throughout.  The ending isn’t something I expected, but will leave you thinking about it for days after.

Book Tour: Stuck (Stitch Trilogy #3) by Samantha Durante #YA #SciFi #giveaway

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

I read the first two books in this series when I began blogging over five years ago, and was immediately hooked.  But then the author took a break from writing, and I feared I’d never know what happened to these characters.  Last month, she contacted me about this new release, and I was thrilled to learn she’d completed the series – can’t wait to dive into this book!

Stuck
(Stitch Trilogy #3)
By Samantha Durante
YA Dystopian, SciFi
Paperback & ebook, 306 Pages
December 15, 2018

3, 2, 1… BOOM.

Things are finally looking up for the Resistance. Sure, Alessa is still processing the revelation that the best friend she’d presumed dead is miraculously alive, though far from well… And her boyfriend is being manipulated under threat of blackmail. But her quest for justice against those behind the systematic extermination of the world population is so close to victory she can taste it.

And then in a matter of seconds, everything Alessa believes in is shaken to the core. Months of preparation are obliterated. The people she cares for most are lost.

But Alessa is still standing. And Paragon must pay.

The odds are grim, but unexpected allies surface in the most unlikely of places: A new pair of citizens still under the colony’s rule who notice something amiss in the latest drama. An old adversary who realizes the error of her ways. And a veritable army of inhuman power and terrible strength, with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. The trustworthiness of each of these factions is yet to be proven, but without many other options, Alessa may have to take what she can get. Especially since the Engineers, never to be outdone, also have a few more tricks up their sleeves…

The long-awaited final installment in the riveting Stitch Trilogy, Stuck will have readers gripping their seats as Alessa and a handful of intrepid survivors usher their harrowing journey to a close, risking everything as they endeavor – once and for all – to set things right.

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Other Books in the Series

Quiz: Where Do You Rank in Paragon Society?

Over the course of the Stitch Trilogy, we’ve gotten to know several different groups within the society of Paragon, from plucky rebels and manipulated citizens to mastermind Engineers and bloodthirsty Stuck.  Where do you fall amongst these ranks?  Take this quick quiz to find out!

Which of the following drives you most crazy?

A. Interruptions in your regularly scheduled TV programming
B. Injustice or exploitation of any kind
C. Finding a piece of cork in your wine
D. Insubordination
E. A craving you just can’t seem to satisfy

How are/were your grades in school?

A. Pretty average
B. Poor – I was too busy with extracurriculars to do homework
C. Excellent
D. School? Waste of time. I put my genius right to work raking in billions
E. Can’t seem to remember…

What’s your biggest vice?

A. I’m high all the time
B. An addiction to righteous indignation
C. Overindulgence (in food, alcohol, sex, all of it)
D. Lies, lies, and more lies
E. An insatiable thirst for violence

What’s your ultimate goal in life?

A. To follow the rules, live simply, and enjoy it
B. To make the world a better place, for everyone
C. To make the world a better place, for those who deserve it
D. To make the world a better place, for those who deserve it, especially me
E. To exact revenge on those who’ve hurt you

What’s your favorite food?

A. Anything heavy and cheesy, yum!
B. Really whatever I can get my hands on that’s not laced with drugs
C. A nice steak dinner
D. Who needs food when you have power?
E. The blood of my enemies (or whoever, really)

Mostly A’s – Citizen
You beat the odds and survived the apocalypse.  Now, you just want to relax: do whatever menial job you’re assigned each day, veg out in front of the latest drama episode at night, dig into some comforting hot entrees, and enjoy the resulting chemical cocktail of mild 24/7 euphoria.  Exploitation?  Abuses of power?  You don’t know nothin’ about any of that – and you’ve earned that ignorance.  Just keep floating along on your comfy little boat of naïveté, keep your head down, and ride out the rest of your years in security.

Mostly B’s – Rebel
Somehow you got wind of some nasty stuff going down behind the scenes in your supposedly peaceful compound, and you are not having it.  You’re not quite sure *who* is behind all the monkey business, but you refuse to sit by and be complicit.  Sure, you may be putting your life on the line by taking a stand, but who wants to live in a cesspool of lies and manipulation anyway?  Just remember, whatever you do, be careful what you eat!

Mostly C’s – Ruling Class
You’re one of Paragon’s best and brightest – and you know it.  Tasked with determining how things should operate in your newfound civilization, your brain is toiling all day, every day, for the benefit of all society.  So don’t you deserve a little break every now and then?  A bottle of wine, a lavish meal, a little, um, companionship (never mind if she’s willing – she wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t, right?).  You’ve earned it.  Without you, all those ingrate citizens would have torn each other to pieces by now.  Aren’t you owed a few perks of their labor?  Work hard, play hard – that’s your motto.

Mostly D’s – Engineer
A former titan of industry, you’ve got brains – and ambition – for days.  You recognized that the figurative ship was sinking, and your self-preservation instincts kicked into overdrive, ensuring that *at least* those who were worthy made it onto a lifeboat (naturally, that included you!).  Of course, there were some sacrifices necessary along the way (usually someone else’s, ::shrug::), but that’s the cost of being true to your ideals.  Some may call you a genocidal maniac, but they’re only seeing half the story.  You’re a genocidal maniac with a heart of gold!

Mostly E’s – Stuck
You were human once, you think.  It’s hard to remember when you’re battling that constant thirst for blood and carnage.  At one time you had hobbies, loved ones, dreams; now you’re more muscle and fury than anything.  But you still have your pastimes: a rousing romp in the forest, munching on a freshly torn-off limb, giving the prison guards a good old fashioned fright.  And if there’s one thing that really gets you going, it’s vengeance!  The trouble is, you can’t seem to remember who to direct all that anger at… and goodness help any innocent soul who gets in your way!

So, where did you land??  Share in the comments!

About the Author
Samantha lives in Westchester County, New York with four of the five loves of her life – her husband, son, younger daughter, and cat – and carries her fifth love, her stillborn daughter, in her heart. An avid reader herself, Samantha’s dream is to bring the same delight to readers that other authors have brought to her life. In addition to penning novels and writing candidly about grief, she is also a sometimes freelance writer/consultant – though more often than not these days she’s on full-time mom duty! A former software engineer, Samantha said goodbye to the corporate world in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and lifelong love of writing. Learn more at www.samanthadurante.com.
Tour Schedule
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Tour Giveaway

1 First Place Winner will receive: Signed Print Copies of All 3 Books in the Trilogy, a Limited-Edition Stitch Scarf, Bookmarks, and a $15 Amazon Gift Card
3 Second Place Winners will receive: eBook Copies of All 3 Books in the Trilogy for You *and* a Friend, plus a $5 Amazon Gift Card
– Open internationally
– Ends December 27th

Grab Our Button!

 

 

The Similars (The Similars #1) by Rebecca Hanover #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #scifi

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

Clones, dark secrets, shocking truths, acts of revenge, and a budding romance – The Similars has it all.  After reading the first three words in the description, I knew this novel was for me.

The first half of this book teased me with hints of dark truths, mysteries, and hidden agendas – I couldn’t put it down.  Emma’s situation is heartbreaking at times, and she has a lot on her plate, but her drive and determination to get to the root of everything is admirable.  The girl gets things done.  Along with the boarding school goings-on is a political angle.  What are clones’ rights?  Should they be treated as human beings and afforded the same privileges?  Are they a threat?  Things to ponder.

The second half seems to veer off the rails just a tad.  While the first half is well-planned and creates a believable world, the second didn’t seem as carefully thought out, and plot developments come from every direction, many of them predictable.  I’m not a fan of love triangles, and by no means is romance the central focus of this story, but there’s a hint of the most unique triangle I’ve come across.  I’ll have to wait for the next book to see if it pans out.

Overall, this is an intriguing book that held my attention from the first page, and I fully intend on continuing with the series.  If you’re a fan of layers upon layers of secrets, sci-fi, thrillers, and mystery, add The Similars to your TBR.

The Similars is scheduled for release January 1st, 2019.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone #bookreview #horror #scifi

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

I read The Hatching series by this author, which I enjoyed, and after seeing the cover of this one – I needed it immediately.  And AI books fascinate me.

After reading this, you may think twice about having a smart home.  The thought of a computer program becoming sentient and deciding independently to control the lives of its creators is freaky scary.  It made me think about how my Alexa speaks at random times – even when no one is in the room with her.  Nellie is dark and dangerous – and she really shines the last 20% of the book during some intense situations – but I wish she would have gotten more page time.  It’s mentioned in the blurb that Shawn, Billy, and Emily had a love triangle back in college, but the drama surrounding that and flashbacks from their respective pasts make up a larger portion of this story.

Not that the plot of The Mansion is anything like The Shining but, being a King fan, I noticed some parallels – a secluded mansion/resort in the middle of winter, an alcoholic sleeping very little and consumed with his work, a character named Wendy, and young creepy sisters – but these are twins with an unusual connection, not ghosts.

I wouldn’t classify this book as horror scary, but more disturbing and unnerving.  It’s a long read at over 400 pages, and contains a good bit of repetition which can be difficult to get past, but I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to both sci-fi and horror fans.  With this being an ARC, the word count may change before publication.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada #bookreview #YA #scifi

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind. 

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil, was one of my most captivating reads last year.  Any books involving genetic engineering?  Yes, please.  I was so excited to receive an ARC of This Cruel Design, but also cautiously optimistic that it would live up to my heightened expectations.  No worries – it more than delivered, and is just as addictive as the first book.

I had no trouble falling right back into Cat’s world, but still appreciated the recap in the first couple of chapters.  Strong characterization is one of the strong points of this series, and I thought I knew these characters’ secrets – wrong.  So very wrong.  More gasp-worthy secrets, hidden agendas, surprising relationship reveals – strap yourselves in and be prepared.  The coding technology continues to thrill my inner science geek, and comes across as absolutely realistic the way it’s written.

With a unique plot line, strong, likable characters pushed to their limits, a fast pace, and futuristic technology, this series will appeal to YA sci-fi fans, and is easily a crossover.  My wait for the next book will not be patient or pleasant.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Calendar Girls: Not Quite The End (Favorite Middle Book in a Series)

This is a meme I saw at Adrienne’s blog and thought it looked like fun.  She invited me to join in, and even though the Neil Sedaka song was embedded in my brain and played all day, I decided to participate.  I’m pretty late getting in on this, but better late than never, right?

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

The other fun piece to The Calendar Girls group is the Twitter chat. On the 3rd Sunday of each month, at 8 p.m. EST, Katie and Adrienne will host a chat with hashtag #CGBChat, where everyone can participate and gif away. They will get the ball rolling by asking a question or two about the theme or the picks of the month to get everyone chatting. The hashtag will be used in all tweets, so you can see all the fun!

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, was one of my top reads last year, and I was worried the second book wouldn’t maintain the pace and intensity of the first.  Most people are familiar with ‘Middle Book Syndrome’, and I’d been burned before when going in with high expectations.

I worried for nothing.  This Cruel Design more than delivered, and is just as addictive.  More secrets, hidden agendas, and relationship reveals – plenty of shocks and surprises along the way.  And a cliffhanger that left my mouth gaping.  The last book in the series has a lot to live up to.

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.